Sunday, December 29, 2013

Socks and Other Blessings
We hang socks from the mantle at Christmas time in hopes that our sock will get magically filled with our favorite candy or some cute little gifts on Christmas morning. Few people hang up real socks, those kind you actually wear on your feet, for Santa to fill these days. But sometimes those real socks that keep the feet warm or look cute might be gifts you've given or received. Maybe you've knitted some socks yourself. Most youngsters aren't too happy to get socks, but my son-in-law actually asks for socks for Christmas. So socks can be a gift of love and caring and a chance to have some fun with gifts as this story from Lynn shows. 

My Christmas story..... For a number of years, my granddaughter was heavily into ballet. As you probably know, ballet can be brutal on the feet. So during those years along with a few regular Christmas gifts, I would send comfy socks, some infused with aloe to relax in and wear around the house. Camouflaging the gift so she wouldn't guess they were socks was a challenge sometimes. 
One year in particular, I sent a metal tube with a beautiful Christmas scene. The first item out of the tube wasn't a pair of socks, but connected to that first gift on a long stream of ribbon were ten different pairs of comical and/or comfy socks, each with a special wish. She was delighted. 
After a few years in succession, I thought I'd be tricky.  Instead of sending her a bunch of socks, the socks went to her mother (a very talented and caring teacher) along with funny notes. I think my granddaughter enjoyed laughing at her mother's surprised look. 
Oh yeah, I couldn't pass it up though. I gave my granddaughter a really funky pair of socks that year that looked similar to the ones seen on the cover of The Cat in The Hat. Each had individual sections to comfort each toe. So that's my Christmas story. I hope in years to come it will be a pleasant memory and a story that my granddaughter will impart to her own children at Christmas time. 

Thanks, Lynn, for sharing your "sock" story. Sounds as if socks made for some fun times around your Christmas trees and showed your love for your granddaughter.

Isabelle tells about a time when she had her eyes opened to how love can make a gift one you will never forget. Her story happened almost eighty years ago, but it's one that taught her a lesson about the true meaning of gifts at Christmas. Here's her story. 

"I don't remember any special gift I've given, but I vividly remember one I received when I was about 8 (I'm now 87). It was Christmas vacation, and I had my tonsils out then so I wouldn't miss school! I sulked and felt abused and wouldn't let anyone console me. On Christmas day, (this was during the Depression) I got up to a beautiful dollhouse my grandfather had made me out of scrap wood. My grandmother, a tailor, had upholstered furniture out of scraps. My aunts and mother and dad had made the furniture out of cardboard. It was a wonderful gift, and I am still abashed when I remember the effort and love with which they had worked while I was stomping around the house. It was an episode I've never forgotten and now I take things as they come and just feel blessed. I've a happy family, (they might disagree over politics and such), but children, grandchildren and great grandchildren always stand up for each other."

Thank you, Isabelle, for that sweet story. And a happy family is truly a blessing and a wonderful gift for a grandmother to have. 

Those are the stories for tonight. I'll be drawing for the winner of my Christmas giveaway prizes on Tuesday night. So if you haven't entered, you've got a couple more days to throw your name in my giveaway hat. You might win a prize of a pillow or books. Be sure to tell me if you "never win." That will give you a chance to win a book and snowman pin. Details on my website news & events page

As always, thanks for reading. I always enjoy hearing from you too. Wishing you a very happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Spirit of Christmas Giving

“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don't clean it up too quickly." ~Andy Rooney

Merry Christmas, everybody! I hope you had one of those glorious messes on your living room floor or if not on your floor then you witnessed the mess of Christmas gift opening on another floor of the house of someone dear to you. 

The Spirit of Christmas Giving
The spirit of Christmas giving is alive and well in most households with excited children running to check what they can find under the tree on Christmas morning. And sometimes we discover the truth of that saying that it is more blessed to give than receive. 

The Joy of Giving
Here's a story Gladys shared about a time she embraced that blessing. "When working in the junior department at our church, I became acquainted with a family that had five young children and it was obvious they would not get much for Christmas. The mother could barely dress the children for Sunday School, but they attended faithfully and were very well behaved. I  handmade presents for each of those children for Christmas. I did not give my gifts at church, for it could not be done unseen. I took them to their home. It was so delightful to see the eyes of those children light up. Their mother sent me a note thanking me for remembering her children. I will never forget that night or those children."   

And Kathleen tells of a time when selfless giving brought her joy. "The best gift I gave was the one the Lord had to remind me. Money to a single mother anonymously in a card that I wrote, "This is for you for perfume or anything you might want for yourself." After Christmas we were side-by-side in the parking lot after church. I rolled down my window and asked, "How was your Christmas?" The little girl bounced on the seat and with a big smile said it was wonderful. I never told and it gave me such joy!"

Christmas is Love

And last here's a story that really touched my heart and that I saved to post today on Christmas Day. Such wonderful love this man showed for his wife and isn't that what Christmas is all about - love? But I'll let Karen tell the story in her own words.
"This is not the worst gift but the best Christmas present I ever received was from my husband after he died. In September of 1991 my husband asked my son to take him Christmas shopping for my gift. He died a month later.  He knew he wouldn't be here at Christmas. We talked that I would finish my accounting degree after he died. At Christmas my son said that he didn't understand the gift that Pop picked out and that he arranged with the shop owner that I could get an exchange. The gift was a briefcase and a most wonderful note that said, 'I'll be with you everyday when you go back to school.' I did get my degree and I took him to school everyday." 

Merry Christmas
Thank you for sharing your Christmas gift stories. May you be blessed with the abounding love and joy that makes up what we call Christmas Spirit. 

"For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" (Luke 2:11-14 NKJ)




Monday, December 23, 2013

A Christmas Treasure Box Wrapped in Love

When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things - not the great occasions - give off the greatest glow of happiness.  ~Bob Hope

I've been having a great time sharing forward some of the stories you've shared with me about the best and at times, the worst gifts you've given or received when you entered my Christmas Giveaway. (Check out my website News and Events page for details if you haven't entered and would like to. It's easy.) 

Our Christmas celebration with our kids and grandkids was Saturday. We celebrate early because some of my kids had to work Monday and so need to make the travel home on a weekend. Also they all need to have the special time as families around their own Christmas trees on Christmas morning. 

Forever Friends
We had a fun family day of food and gifts and connecting. Because my children live in different states they don't get to see each other as often as they would like. When I grew up I saw some of my cousins nearly every week and we had so much fun together. Other cousins lived away and we only saw them a couple of times a year. That's the way it is with my grandkids. They only see each other a few times a year so it's fun for me to watch them connecting at Christmas. I suppose all mothers want their children and grandchildren to be forever friends, to know that wonderful bond of family. For grandparents, that might be the best part of Christmas. We're no longer eager for gifts, however nice they are and we did get some nice ones. But the best gift is seeing our family together. 

It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.  ~W.T. Ellis

Some Best Gifts

Still we do fill those boxes and wrap them up in pretty paper and hope the people tearing into them will find some joy in the contents. So here are some of the presents you've told me were the best you gave or received.

Alla says she treasures the nativity set she got when she was a newlywed. 

Dawn says books and the gift of reading is a present hard to beat and I agree. I give all my grandkids and kids a book every year and hope I've found stories that will spark that reading joy.

Carolyn says, "One of my best Christmases was when I was eight years old (I am now 70 years old). I badly wanted a blue parakeet for Christmas. You can imagine my joy when I received one. I named him Chippy and he lived until I was 18 years old. He was the best bird I ever had and a true friend."

And Tish says it's hard to beat a puppy as the best gift. This is my little granddaughter checking out puppies at her aunt's house. The puppy is much too little for gift giving right now, but it's easy to see it would be a pleasing present for her.    

Here's a story from Susan about a special family gift to her parents.

"One year for Christmas my sisters and I gave our parents sweatshirts with all the grandkids' handprints on them.  One of the best things about that was that Mother and Daddy carried them all over Texas and didn't know what they were. I put my kids' handprints on them, then boxed them up. My parents were going to see my sister, so I asked them to take the box to her.  She put her kids' handprints on them and boxed them back up. When my parents left her house to go see my other sister, she asked them to take the box and give it to her. After she did the same thing, she asked them to take it back to me. They were very confused as to why they were carrying this box to everybody and they didn't know what was in it. That was one of the best gifts.  Not only for the gift, but because of how it got to them."

Don't you know Susan's parents loved that gift and laughed about how they carried that treasure all over the country.

A Treasure Box of Love and Healing
Then last, we have a loving gift from one friend to another. I'll let Bobbe tell you about her gift. "I recently gave a Christmas and healing gift to a dear friend who unexpectedly and recently lost her 37 year old son to cancer. I call my gifts my treasure boxes of love and happiness. Since we grew up in the 50’s I enclosed lots of fun and funny things from that time period. I also added a set of Jacks and Balls so she could sit on the floor with her grandchildren and teach them some of our favorite Jacks games. Putting together lots of cute things from our childhood days as well as some practical things from today.

My goal was to take her mind off the pain and hurt by making her a Treasure box of Love and Healing. She was thrilled and can’t wait to have her grandchildren  join her in making and playing with all the fun things her box contains. So I think this is one of the best gifts I have given to a dear friend."

A gift wrapped in love is the best ever, and that's what Bobbe wrapped around her gift.

Christmas - that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance.  It may weave a spell of nostalgia.  Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance - a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.  ~Augusta E. Rundel  

Merry Christmas to all of you!  And thanks for reading. I love hearing from you all.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Best Gift - a Happy Family All Wrapped Up in Each Other

"The best of all Christmas gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other." ~Burton Hillis

The Gift of a Happy Family

Christmas is almost here for me since we are celebrating our family Christmas early. Some of my family has to travel a ways to get home and so a weekend celebration works better. Besides, the families with kids want to have time for Christmas morning around their own trees. Our children don't stay kids for long, but Christmas morning can be such a fun and joyous time with them while the magic of Christmas shines in their eyes. 

"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas time." ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

A Box of Rocks
How many of you have teased those in your family by telling them they aren't getting anything for Christmas but a box of rocks? Or a lump of coal in their stockings? Or even worse, a bundle of switches? Kim has a story for us about that box of rocks that gave her family some laughs.

"This wasn’t the best or the worst gift we ever gave, but it certainly created the most laughs. My dad was a big deer hunter and always got at least one so we could have venison throughout the year. One Christmas, my sisters and I saw three concrete statues of white-tailed deer. So we pooled our money and bought them for Mom and Dad to put in the back yard. Of course, we had to wrap them in a big box. It took all three of us to carry it from the tree to their chairs in the living room. When we dropped it (literally – that sucker was heavy!), Dad said, “What is that? A box of rocks?” Which made us all laugh, because technically that’s what it was. From that Christmas on whenever someone got a really heavy present, someone would always ask if they were getting a box of rocks."

A Gangs of New York Gift

Kim's dad enjoyed that "box of rocks." But sometimes when we're thinking about what to get for a mom or dad, we forget that our sisters or brothers might be thinking of the same gift. My sister-in-law and I bought my husband's mother the same thing for Christmas so often that it became a kind of family joke. After a couple of years, you'd think we could have figured out that a phone call might be in order to see what the other one was getting for my mother-in-law. Maybe we thought she needed two of whatever. Instead, on Christmas Day, we just hoped she picked our present to open first. :) Annemarie tells about something the same happening in her family that still has them laughing.

"I have a fun story that isn't really a best or worst, but one that could have been disappointing but instead caused a lot of laughter and a family story. A few Christmases ago my Dad sent out his Christmas list. He is always hard to buy gifts for because he doesn't really ask for much. There are 4 of us siblings and we all want to get him something he likes and hopefully not a repeat. That happens occasionally because there isn't a lot on his list. Well, that year I picked up a book he had on his list and a video "Gangs of New York".
   Christmas Eve came and we were opening gifts and it was my Dad's turn. He opened a few gifts and then one from my youngest brother.....yes, it was "Gangs of New York." So I was disappointed that we had a repeat of the gift. The next gift he opened was from my sister and it was...."Gangs of New York".
    So, now I'm trying not to laugh out loud because I knew what was coming. Sure enough, my present was next and we all had a laugh when he opened it and it was " Gangs of New York." When my other brother's gift turned out to be the same video we were all in hysterics and the phrase "Gangs of New York" became a family catchphrase that really takes away the disappointment of a duplicate gift. We all remember that Christmas when my Dad received 4 copies of the same video. And to this day hope that our gift will not turn out to be a "Gangs of New York" gift.

More than Gifts

It might have been the same gift, but it showed they were all wanting to please their dad. And isn't that what we all want when we're hunting gifts for our loved ones? We want our gifts to show our love. And then we find out that, although we love giving gifts and getting those loving gifts, Christmas is more than gifts. 
Take it from the Grinch who tried to steal Christmas. "Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!" (How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss) And that's because of the perfect gift born in a stable long years ago. A perfect gift of love. 

Merry Christmas to all of you! And thank you for the stories you've shared with me. Your stories and comments mean so much to me. You still have time to enter the giveaway if you haven't. You can see more about in on my website, Check out the News and Events page there. Enter by sending me an e-mail or by leaving a comment here with a way to contact you if you turn out to be one of the winners. 

And keep hunting for that great gift. You've still got a few shopping days left!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Family - the Perfect Gift

Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas. ~Peg Bracken

What makes Christmas such a special time of the year? What stirs up the Christmas spirit in our hearts and makes us want everybody to be happy on Christmas Day? Love is the main reason. God's love for us that resulted in the first Christmas, and our love for the Lord and for our families and friends.

And because we love we want to give gifts that show that love. Mandy was able to do that with a gift to her brother. Here's her best gift given story.

"My brother is a country music singer and he is always traveling from home to Nashville, TN. I just thought he needed something to take with him from home while he is away. So, I made him a quilt. I worked so hard on it...I'm not a great quilter. I embroidered a square in the middle with a guitar, a guitar pick, and a microphone on it. My brother doesn't show emotion very much, but he did when I gave him his quilt. He hugged me and cried and then said very quickly that he need to go outside for a minute. I loved that he loved it. Now he always takes it with him wherever he goes so he can have a little bit of home wrapped around him."

Aww, Mandy, that's such a sweet story. But Robin has those best family gifts figured out. Here's what she said, "Best gift given or received! Hmmmm........I have to say that is a really hard question. Yes, our family exchanges gifts, but it isn't about the presents for me. I only remember being together as a family. Going to my grandparents as a child and now going to my parents' house with my children. It's family! Only family. That is the perfect gift. The gift of being together."

Beautiful thoughts, Robin. Thanks for sharing. May we always remember those blessed times with our families.

Last week we shared a story of a cat as the best gift ever. So far nobody has mentioned a puppy or a dog as best gifts. They don't have to be under a Christmas tree the way my daughter's dog is here. They can be the best gift any time of the year. I've certainly had some of those best gifts. Oscar is my most recent one. But I may get a dog Christmas story yet. Remember, if you haven't already entered my Christmas giveaway, you still have time. I'm not drawing for the winner until New Year's Eve. Just leave a comment here with a way to contact you or send me an e-mail from my website.You can check out about the prizes on the Events Page.

By this time next week, we will have had our family Christmas. Saturday is our big day with the kids. Next week is getting ready time. Gotta bake cookies, wrap those last stray gifts, go to the Candlelight Service at church, buy groceries, clean the house, and who knows what else. If I could teach Oscar to wipe his feet when he comes inside it would be easier to keep the floors clean. 

What do you have to do to get ready for Christmas?